Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Just Another Beautiful Place in Maine

Here we are in beautiful Maine. The cool mornings and warm sunny days compel a person to spend the day exploring the great outdoors and there is no place in Maine more appealing than the coastline. I fell in love with Cape Elizabeth 15 years ago when I first came to Maine and I am still in love with it today.

Cape Elizabeth is a bedroom community of Portland and sits on a peninsula overlooking Casco Bay. The dramatic sweeping ocean views are reason enough to bring me back every time. While the town is small and does not have a scenic historic downtown, many visitors still come. This little town boasts three coastal parks (Fort Williams Park, Two Lights State Park, and Crescent Beach State Park), three lighthouses (Portland Head Light, Ram Island Ledge Light, and Two Lights), and one very popular lobster shack.
One can never get tired of this view!
So with the sun shining and the dog in the car, we made the short drive from Old Orchard Beach to Cape Elizabeth. We first stopped at Two Lights State Park. This little park offers dramatic views of Casco Bay and unobstructed views of the two lighthouses from which the park got its name. A well-maintained, yet primitive trail, winds you through the woods and dumps you into the open air where you are greeted with a rocky coastline and ocean views. Watching the 5 ft waves splash against the rocks was incredible.

A short but satisfying hike leads
you to the ocean.

Located at Fort Williams Park is Cape Elizabeth’s Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine. This lighthouse is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. Its white light tower stands proudly above the ocean guiding ships into Portland Harbor since its construction in 1791. The striking beauty of the lighthouse is matched by the light keeper’s house (which now houses a museum) and the well landscaped grounds. It is widely believed that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote many lines of his poems while sitting at his favorite spot near the base of its tower.

Portland Head Light. (Ram Island Ledge Light is off to the right in the distance.)
The light keepers house and the light tower.
Also in view from the Portland Headlight is the Ram Island Ledge Light. The rocky ledge that this light sits on was the site of many repeated shipwrecks until a light was placed there in 1905. The light was constructed of granite mined from nearby Vinalhaven Island. This light represents your chance for owning that quintessential piece of Maine as the property was put up for sale in 2010 for a minimum bid of $10,000.

Ram Island Ledge Light.
The third lighthouse in the area is Two Lights. The site was appropriately named Two Lights because there were two lights that were constructed. One light had a fixed beam while the other had a flashing beam. Working together these lights helped mariners establish their positions in the treacherous harbor. Eventually, the west tower was discontinued and the east tower was automated. While the east tower is still in operation, the west tower is privately owned. Most people get a view of this light on their way to the Lobster Shack.

The east tower of Two Lights (also known as the Cape Elizabeth Light.)
The Lobster Shack at Two Lights is a popular restaurant that does not provide the best food which is over priced (in our opinions) but the view is spectacular. Outdoor picnic tables invite you to order a lobster roll and savor your food for a while. Where else can you hear crashing surf, gaze up at a lighthouse, and watch lobstermen haul in their traps in the sea below? This 1920’s institution serves all the typical lobster shack fare including lobster stew, lobster rolls, fried haddock, clam chowder, and yes steamed lobster. Guess what Betsy ate?!

The Lobster Shack at Two Lights where you eat overlooking the ocean
The itinerary of this trip was the exact same as on our visit 15 years ago (with the exception of having Otter with us).  I’m sure the next visit will be the same as well.
The lighthouse at the restaurant - not quite as stunning.
Plenty of inspiration for these artists.
I'm guessing the crew of this boat did not have a very merry Christmas.  They
were shipwrecked right off the coast of the Portland Head Light.
The light keepers house which now houses a museum.

Plaque at the Portland Head Light.

Eiders (sea ducks) bobbing in the water.

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